2016 has been a rough year, and it's not over. Finding consolation through the rough patches, and appreciation during the better parts, requires flexing those muscles of reflection and gratitude. So on this Thanksgiving, to break the champagne over the 2016 holiday season, we've gathered a few things we're grateful for in architecture, to share and celebrate. Cheers!
For architects within the UK standing up for what they believed in, pre- and post- Brexit.
The vast majority of the industry made it clear they wanted to remain in the European Union and gave a passionate and vocal fight. After the result, although disappointed and disheartened by the outcome, the industry embraced unity, innovation, creativity and the need for honest and informed conversation moving forward.
Well considered resting spots
Quite simply I want to be the girl in the picture above. It is a truly well-considered use of space and spot on for its function. The new Tate Modern Switch House did pretty well on this front too.
The film adaptation of High Rise
It wasn’t as good as the book, they never are, but it was still brilliant. Beautiful, bold, brutal, brutalist and eerily well-timed for the miasmic year of 2016. “Looking up at the endless tiers of balconies, he felt uneasily like a visitor to a malevolent zoo where terraces of vertically mounted cages contained creatures of random and ferocious cruelty.” ― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise
Building Bridges, Not Walls
It's been a year full of divisive rhetoric and bitter conflicts. That's why I'm all the more appreciative of architects who are able to deploy their skills to better understand—and maybe even improve—the world. The After Belonging Agency made a convincing case for the importance of such work during the Oslo Architecture Triennale.
While the circumstances that prompted it weren't the most ideal, the quick response by a good chunk of the architecture community to the AIA's tacit expression of support for President-elect Trump proved that this community is both passionate and able to organize efficiently in order to voice their discontent.
Climate change can induce some pretty intense feelings of hopelessness. That is, unless you're one of these architects. They're devoting their time for the collective good and proving that we don't have to sacrifice good design in the process. Here's to that!
Really, really good computer games
There’s a renaissance happening in game design, producing breathtaking digital worlds with emotionally and intellectually complex narratives, and architects are paying attention. The tools of game design and architecture are overlapping more and more, modeling human behavior to build better cities. I can't wait to see what new stories and projects come from the collaboration.
Timothy Morton's philosophy
It's insanely frustrating that, in 2016, climate change is still a partisan issue. While the political and scientific discourse trends toward the (justifiably) alarmist or the (depressingly) repressive, Timothy Morton’s philosophy opens up a new angle for considering humans' role on this spaceship Earth. His ideas about human selfhood, and our relationship with nature, are fascinating and provocative, and attest to an existence far richer than the “stranded polar bear on an ice sheet” caricature.
Architects combatting homelessness
The basic human right to shelter, and therefore to architecture, is still in no way a guarantee in many cities. I’m grateful for the architects and civil servants working to address housing crises and homeless populations the world over.
Not to undermine what so many women in architecture and design have done, but Zaha Hadid is one of those seminal figures whose resilient aura and one-of-a-kind designs have left a mark on me for good. And personally, seeing a woman (not to mention a woman of color) who was at the top of her game—despite the scrutiny she got (which was sometimes excessive)—is always inspiring.
Addressing mental health
I appreciate all the architects who are helping spread awareness of mental health and the stigma that still surrounds it, whether they are simply paying more attention to the well-being of students and practitioners or exploring how our current urban environments affect our daily lives.
Public-interest design initiatives
Public interest design initiatives, like the ones in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for instance, prove that architecture is more—and should be more—than just pretty buildings only fancy rich folks can buy.
2016 wasn't an easy year for Brazil on so many levels. But there were glimpses of hope, joy even: besides the Olympic Summer Games coming and going without any major operational glitches, there was Paulo Mendes da Rocha taking home all the major architecture accolades this year (including Venice Biennale Golden Lion, Praemium Imperiale Award, RIBA Gold Medal), and then—who could forget—we all fell hostage to the beauty of that absolutely gorgeous, and notoriously award-winning, SP_Penthouse by São Paulo spatial wizards, Studio MK27.
'Small Architecture' and (good) Urban Interventions
Not only because Archinect's editorial theme for November is dedicated to XS, I'll gladly take a smart & small dedication to the built environment any time over a shiny bloated white elephant. Thankfully we've received a good number of really fascinating submissions during our last open call, and will continue to publish them here.
SANAA's Grace Farms "River" building
When the U.S. Presidential Election campaign entered its ugly homestretch this fall, the selection of SANAA's meandering Grace Farms “River” project for the second Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize in October came as a refreshing and much needed reminder that architecture can (and must) be a vehicle for beauty, aspiration, light, harmony, transparency, exploration, and humanity.
The Archinect Community
I'd like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the entire 200,000+ registered members in our community here at Archinect.
Archinect is possible because of the 51,000 architects and designers that have shared their work and experience in our people profiles; the thousands who regularly share their knowledge, experience, and support with peers in our forum; and the hundreds of extremely talented and smart community members have given their time and insight as contributors and guests in our podcasts, live events, and featured editorial.
Without the support and trust of the 29,000 firms from around the world that have created professional showcases in our firm profiles, sharing amazing projects, news and job opportunities, Archinect wouldn't offer the unique community platform it does.
Ken and Donna - thanks for being crazy awesome and smart podcast co-hosts, and thanks to Danilo, our sound editor, for cutting out the bullshit and making us sound good.
And lastly, a massive thanks to the extremely talented, dedicated and fun staff in Los Angeles and London. Alex, Amelia, Ellen, Justine, Nicholas, Julia, Nicole, Robert, Abi, Tushar, Ritesh... you are the engine that drives this train.
It takes a village, and I'm so grateful.